Fashion

Zappos Founder Tony Hsieh Dies Following House Fire Injuries

Tony Hsieh, the retired CEO of Zappos.com who revolutionised the online shoe industry and gained notoriety for his company’s unique corporate culture, has died. He was 46.

The cause of Hsieh’s death wasn’t released. Puoy Premsrirut, a lawyer for Hsieh, told news outlets that Hsieh had been injured in a house fire while visiting Connecticut. He was with family there when he died Friday night, KLAS-TV reported.

A Harvard graduate, Hsieh gained success in the dot com era. He joined Zappos in 1999 when it was called ShoeSite.com and led it for two decades. Amazon.com Inc. purchased the company for $1.2 billion in 2009 and Hsieh remained as chief executive officer until stepping down in August.

Amazon’s purchase of the company signalled Jeff Bezos was both impressed and threatened with Zappos’ fast delivery of online orders and customer service reputation. Hsieh’s success selling shoes online stood out because it was a product people traditionally like to feel on their feet before buying.

“We are deeply saddened to hear of Tony Hsieh’s untimely passing, and our thoughts are with his family and friends,” Amazon tweeted on a company account. “Tony was a visionary leader and innovator who will be greatly missed.

Management Style

Hsieh was a fixture in the tech speaker circuit and espoused his company’s commitment to “holocracy,” a decentralised management style where decision-making was spread throughout the organisation without traditional hierarchy.

He stood out as a non-traditionalist even in an industry known for breaking tradition. He lived in a trailer park in downtown Las Vegas that attracted creative people working on the strip. They’d eat communal meals by a big fire pit and a pet alpaca roamed the park. Hsieh would make random appearances in the park to play a card game with visitors that forced them to pick priorities in their lives.

Tributes swirled on social media from the tech industry, Las Vegas — where the company was headquartered — and from President Trump’s daughter. Nevada Governor Steve Sisolak thanked him for helping transform the city, while Ivanka Trump said Hsieh’s originality challenged her to “reject conformity.”

By Spencer Soper

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